A Guide to Diabetes Self-care

By Jason Goldie, MD of The Family Health Centers.
Most of us know that diabetes is a disease related to abnormally high blood sugars.  Unfortunately, diabetes can lead to several different issues including heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and loss of toes or even feet.

It is very important to control blood sugars to prevent these issues from happening.  Most treatments for diabetes will involve medications and frequent doctor visits but there is still a good bit that we can do ourselves to control diabetes and keep complications from arising.

Body weight.  The only real cure for type II diabetes is lifestyle change focused on diet and weight loss.  It is very important to maintain a healthy weight or to work toward your ideal body weight if you are overweight.   For most of us, a normal body weight is calculated by having a body mass index (BMI) below 25%.  If your BMI is over 25%, then it is important to discuss a weight loss plan with your doctor. There will be some tips included below.  Usually this needs to be done through changes in our diet and regular exercise.  You have to keep in mind that weight loss should be slow and steady.  We did not gain weight overnight, and, therefore cannot lose it overnight.

Food choices.  It is important for weight loss to control our calories.  Calories are energy, and if we do not use the energy we eat, our body stores this as fat and we will gain weight.  For folks with diabetes, it is important to limit calories from carbohydrates and fat.  This can be found in breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, certain un-lean meats and pastries.  As a rule, most people with diabetes should limit their daily calories to 1800, but this can vary based on weight.  The Family Health Centers offers both nutritional services by a registered dietician as well as visits with our registered diabetes educator.

Exercise.  Exercise is also very important for the treatment of diabetes and weight loss.  We know that exercise has an immediate effect on lowering blood sugar and also controls blood sugar over time.  The recommendations for regular exercise are 150 minutes per week.  This can be divided up as needed.  For example, you can exercise 30 minutes five days a week or 50 minutes three days a week.  It is also important to find an exercise that you can maintain and does not worsen certain muscular or skeletal conditions such as arthritis and back pain.

Stay in touch with your primary care physician.  Along with keeping a normal body weight, good food choices and regular exercise, it is important to keep your regular follow up appointments, take medications as prescribed and check certain labs on a regular basis.  Your doctor will also recommend you get your eyes checked by an eye doctor once a year along with an annual foot exam to look for any circulation or sensation problems.  Depending on the severity of your diabetes and what types of medications you take, you may or may not need to check your blood sugars.  Some people only need to check this once a day, or up to 4 times a day, particularly if you are on insulin.  It is important to follow the self-care plan designed by you and your regular doctor.

Jason Goldie, MD


About Dr. Goldie. I live with my wife, two year old daughter and Lab mix in Arden.  We were drawn to Asheville by its natural beauty, incredible people and cultural offerings.  I enjoy taking care of men and women of all ages and managing chronic illness.  In my spare time I try to take advantage of the music and food in Asheville.